[MARMAM] Orca Project Sri Lanka (OPSL): Re-sightings and observations of possible predation of Mesoplodon densirostris

Georgie Gemmell georgina.wildoceans at gmail.com
Tue Dec 17 03:31:53 PST 2013

Dear MarMamers

Here are a few key updates for Orca Project Sri Lanka (OPSL), more details
can be found in the monthly-updated sightings log and PDF, see links at
bottom of post.

Since the beginning of the 2013/14 field season, there have been five
sightings of a pair of Killer whales off Mirissa on the South Coast.
(November 18th, 25th, 26th, 27th and 29th).

Photographs and video footage from the 25th and 26th, submitted to OPSL,
show the individuals to be OM001 and OK008. It is likely that the ‘male and
female’ reported from the other 3 dates were also this pair.

These two whales are the most frequently re-sighted in the OPSL catalougue.
It is believed they return each year as well as travel all around the
island, having been sighted in Kalpitya (Northwest), Mirissa (South) and
Trincomalee (Northeast)

*Observations of predation*

Images from the 25th of November were shared with OPSL by observers Paul
Bateson and Andrew Webb. Observation details include the orcas feeding on
an unidentified object. In two of the images, a beak or rostrum can be seen
with a patchy brown/green colouration to the surrounding skin. OPSL
contacted Josh McInnes, who specializes in the study of mammal-eating
(transient) killer whales of the Pacific Northwest, to offer his opinion on
the ID. After looking at the photos, Josh concluded that the beak shape and
brown/green colouration (caused by diatoms) appears to be consistent with
that of a juvenile Blainville’s beaked whale *Mesoplodon densirostris.*

OPSL in collaboration with Josh McInnes, are currently preparing a small
paper on this finding, which will be released in the coming week.

We would be very interested to hear of any observations of Killer whale
predation on M. densirostris, as well as any other accounts of prey species
taken in the Northern Indian Ocean.

Please contact us at georgina.wildoceans at gmail.com



Sightings Log

All the best


*Georgina Gemmell*
Lead Administrator, Orca Project Sri Lanka
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